“No, you are not going to ever work again. You are going to be on medication for the rest of your life. You are probably going to end up in a state institution and never see your family again. You need to accept the hand that has been dealt you.” The words echoed inside my head just like the sound of my own voice as I’d holler into the empty trash barrel for entertainment as a child. But this time it wasn’t my own voice I was hearing for amusement, it was my psychiatrist answering my questioning if I were ever going to be able to work again. I had been suicidal for months and had admitted myself to a mental hospital so I did not follow through. After all, I had two children and a husband anxiously waiting for me to return to my normal, happy self. I knew at that moment what hope was and that I had it because Dr. Atkins was trying to take it away from me. I returned to my room in tears, despondently wondering why he would say this to me. Wondering if it were true? Asking myself how did I end up at this point?
Recovery is getting from where I am to where I want to be, creating a new normal. Wellness is me making by own informed life choices. I am creating a new normal for myself. I am living my own life choices, now. I figured out for myself how to do that and now I share that knowledge and hope for recovery and wellness with others. It took a while for me to replace the many ineffective medications and all their side effects with alternative solutions. It wasn’t instantly that I was able to relax enough to get to sleep and stay asleep all night. I had to work on deep breathing that would pull me out of an anxiety attack. But I did it. And I took personal responsibility to take good enough care of myself so that I would be able to see my grandchildren some day and not feel so trapped that I would seek out the alternative to living. I have educated myself on what works best for my wellness and what triggers me to drift away from feeling well. I learned how to speak up for myself and advocate for my needs to be met. When I face a challenge, I find a solution to overcome it. I access lots of support in my life including a loving husband who has never given up believing I could find resources to help me. He continually has the attitude asking me, “What can I do to support you?” I am now empowered to make healthy choices for myself instead of a victim of my random angst.
As I was researching what I needed to do to recover from the effects of childhood trauma through reading books and online information, attending mental health conferences and going to support groups, I ran across the writings of Mary Ellen Copeland. I felt her books really articulated what I had discovered for myself concerning overcoming debilitating mental health issues. In her program WRAP which stands for Wellness Recovery Action Plan I learned how to write down those things I do every day to take really good care of myself. I recognized what triggers me to not feel so well and developed a plan of action to be self nurturing during those times to increase my wellness. I became familiar with the early warning signs that are cherished red flags giving me information that my buttons have been pushed. I acknowledge when things are breaking down and take action to keep it from going into a crisis situation. And I have a written crisis plan to let supporters know how to help me during those really tough times. I took the training to become a workshop facilitator to support others in writing their own plans for wellness and now do that for my own business as a Wellness Recovery Educator. I hold the hope until others can hold it for themselves.
That doctor was wrong. I did not end up in a state institution. I did not accept the hand that had been dealt me. I changed the situation so I became a self advocate and I learned how to stand up for myself and get my needs met. I know how important self expression is for my health and utilize it every day.